Some of the big names faltered in Toronto but they’ve got another crack at a US Open Series Masters 1000 title in Cincinnai – how might the draw play out?
Watch ATP Cincinnati live. Coverage is available here: UK viewers can stream the action here:
We break down the Western & Southern Open draw for ATP Cincinnati as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray look to bounce back from early exits in Toronto, while Roger Federer hopes to keep his great summer run going. The tournament begins on Monday 11 August.
Projected quarterfinal – Novak Djokovic (1) vs David Ferrer (6) (12-5)
First-round matches to watch: Jack Sock vs Tommy Robredo, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Mikhail Youzhny
Could we see Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clash again, just one week after Tsonga stunned the world no. 1 6-2, 6-2 in Toronto?
It would be expecting a lot from Tsonga, a finalist in Toronto, to make another deep run at a Masters 1000 event the very next week but stranger things have happened.
Djokovic, who has never won Cincinnati but has reached the final four times, has really a very decent draw at the Western & Southern Open and if he can put in some more energetic performances than he managed in Toronto, looks good for a deep run – he is likely to meet Gilles Simon, in so many ways a less impressive version of him, in the second round and could face Tommy Robredo, who has not particularly impressed in 2014, for a place in the quarterfinals although American wildcards Sam Querrey (albeit mid-slump) and Jack Sock might be an outside chance for a third-round opponent.
David Ferrer, who played well enough in Toronto before losing to Roger Federer, is Djokovic’s projected quarterfinal opponent and unless Tsonga can reproduce his Toronto form in Cincinnati, it looks likely to be Ferrer – although the winner of an interesting first-round match between Jeremy Chardy and Philipp Kohlschreiber could be a mild challenge. With the exception of Tsonga, nobody in this quarter is in particularly troubling form and it looks likely to develop along extremely predictable lines.
Projected quarterfinal – Stan Wawrinka (3) vs Grigor Dimitrov (7) (2-1)
First-round matches to watch: Feliciano Lopez vs Marin Cilic, Richard Gasquet vs Julien Benneteau
Two players who lost to Roger Federer in Toronto, Feliciano Lopez and Marin Cilic, face off in the first round in what could be an extremely exciting match and one of the highlights of what manages to look like an unpredictable and yet not that interesting quarter of the draw.
Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, who fell to Kevin Anderson in the third round of Toronto, could meet another big-serving player, Ivo Karlovic, in the second round with a potential third, in the shape of Marin Cilic (whose serve is not quite so big, but not inconsequential either) in the third round. The winner of the Lopez-Cilic first-round clash will meet either Houston champion Fernando Verdasco or Marcel Granollers for the right to confront Wawrinka, who should – should – handle any and all of them easily to reach the quarterfinals.
Grigor Dimitrov was a semifinalist in Toronto where he fell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but didn’t really play his best tennis. We could see that again in Cincinnati where Dimitrov’s draw looks very smooth: He will play either a qualifier or the badly slumping Jerzy Janowicz in the second round. His projected third-round opponent, Richard Gasquet, has persistent health concerns and opens against the tricky Julien Benneteau, while Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the Casablanca champion, shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge either if it turns out to be him that comes through to the third round. This is exactly the kind of draw that Dimitrov needs to prove he can subdue if he is to consolidate his position inside the top ten.
Projected quarterfinal – Milos Raonic (5) vs Tomas Berdych (4) (2-1)
First-round matches to watch: Ivan Dodig vs Ernests Gulbis, Lleyton Hewitt vs Jurgen Melzer
Both victims of a great run from Feliciano Lopez in Toronto, Washington D.C. champion Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych could meet in the quarterfinals of Cincinnati.
Of the two, Berdych has a better draw, with Fabio Fognini – not playing spectacularly well at the moment – the other seed in his section. Fognini opens against Edouard Roger-Vasselin, with the winner of that one meeting the victor of an intriguing first-round clash between veterans Lleyton Hewitt and Jurgen Melzer, and you would favour Berdych against any of those four in the third round – as you would against either Denis Istomin or Yen-Hsun Lu (whom Berdych beat in Toronto) in the second round.
Ernests Gulbis, winner of two titles in 2014 and victim of Julien Benneteau in Toronto, has a tough first-round against Ivan Dodig, who struggled with injury earlier in the season but beat John Isner and Andreas Seppi in Toronto. Should Gulbis get through that, he could pose an intriguing threat to Raonic as Gulbis’s second-round opponent would be either Steve Johnson or a qualifier.
Raonic has an interesting second round himself against either the rising Dominic Thiem, whose momentum seems to have slowed after a great first half of the season, or wildcard Robby Ginepri, but should be safe against either.
Projected quarterfinal – Andy Murray (8) vs Roger Federer (2) (11-10)
First-round matches to watch: Kevin Anderson vs John Isner, Roberto Bautista Agut vs Martin Klizan, Federico Delbonis vs Gael Monfils, Vasek Pospisil vs Radek Stepanek
Perhaps the most interesting quarter, this one could see Andy Murray and Roger Federer – two-time and five-time Cincinnati champions respectively – face off in the quarterfinals but also promises some exciting early-round encounters.
Will Federer, after reaching the final in Toronto, play in Cincinnati? If he does, he has some interesting matches ahead of him (although you would still favour Federer to win them). Opening against either Radek Stepanek, a veteran whom Federer has almost always dominated, or Vasek Pospisil, Federer could meet Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round. Bautista Agut has made a rapid ascent through the rankings in 2014 and opens against the unpredictable but dangerous Martin Klizan, with Gael Monfils – who played Djokovic very close in Toronto – a potential second-round opponent and a real threat, if he is healthy, to come through to the third round.
Murray, meanwhile, is reaping the bitter rewards of a poor season and slide down the rankings with his eighth seeding for Cincinnati, but he actually has a decent draw to the quarterfinals. Opening against Joao Sousa or a qualifier, Murray is projected to face John Isner in the third round. Isner plays well during the US Open Series but suffered early losses in Washington D.C. and Toronto and opens against Kevin Anderson, who had a very good Toronto run. The winner of that is likely to be Murray’s third-round opponent but if Murray is to give himself any chance at the US Open, it’s the kind of match that he must – and can – win to set up a quarterfinal encounter with Federer.
The Western & Southern Open begins in Cincinnati on Monday 11 August and will be available to watch online.